October 1993

Leonardo da Vinci: The Anatomy of Man

Author Affiliations

Pasadena, Calif


by Martin Clayton, 141 pp, with illus, $40, Boston, Mass, Little Brown & Co Inc, 1992.

Arch Surg. 1993;128(10):1171. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1993.01420220091014

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This volume consists of reproductions of 23 sheets of the anatomical drawings of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) together with explanatory discussions of their content and significance. These were selected from the extensive collection of his anatomical works in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle. They formed the basis for an exhibition that was organized in 1992.

Leonardo conducted extensive anatomical dissections in humans. Most of his written records are lost, but several hundred heavily annotated drawings have been preserved. The majority came into the possession of the British monarchy in the early 17th century. Their significance was not recognized until well into the 19th century. The contributions of Andrei Vesalius (1514-1564) had been recognized long before those of Leonardo were acknowledged.

Leonardo's anatomical studies began as a companion to his work as an artist. His insatiable curiosity and demand for the primacy of direct observation (the Aristotelian and Hippocratic method)

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